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New Youth Networks for Climate in Delhi and Mumbai

Sakshi Bhalla has been campaigning since she was a little girl growing up in Delhi. She remembers running her first “cleanliness campaign” in 5th grade. Since that time, she has become an experienced social campaigner, working on issues such as health, gender, and education in India. More recently, she has focused on climate change, working on a highly-successful project on air pollution called Help Delhi Breathe.

For Sakshi, the most impactful campaigns are those that aim to find practical ways forward: “there are lots of communication campaigns that focus on problems, but not enough that focus on solutions”. She also believes that campaigns that include a strong cultural and creative component can help make global, universal issues much more relevant to local people and their context, and can make often abstract, scientific, or technical issues come alive.

Creating new networks - Uniting different missions 

For our pilot programme in Delhi and Mumbai, we partnered with Human Circle. They are a community of people driving sustainability programs through experiential growth initiatives like Young India Challenge, life coaching, and mentorship.

Sakshi purposefully avoided a focus on climate change activists, instead zoning in on young people outside of the usual networks of climate action who, when mobilised, could become a powerful new voice in the climate action space. In Delhi, she worked with Human Circle and Amity University, gathering 100 students from across departments for a day of conversations and activities designed to inform and engage the students with local issues of sustainability. In Mumbai, Human Circle created a pilot workshop that gathered eighteen young professionals from widely varied careers such as journalism, business, photography to work together to create visions and action plans for the city.

The value of bringing people together with different expertises and interests was clear to Sakshi. “Most social issues have deep intersections with each other, and this was a very interesting opportunity to see how different organisations and individuals’ interests intersect with climate change.”

While this is just a beginning, it points to how organisations with differing missions and youth with varied interests can connect, and unite around sustainable cities and climate change. Imagine if this approach took hold across India, and engaged the largest young population in the world.

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